US firm Noble Energy has acquired a 40% participation stake in two offshore oil exploration and production contracts in Colombia from Shell.

The deal, approved by the National Hydrocarbons Agency of Colombia (ANH), also enables Noble Energy to become the operator of the COL-3 and GUA OFF-3 blocks located offshore in the Colombian Caribbean Sea. The COL-3 and GUA OFF-3 blocks cover an area of more than 880,000ha.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed by the parties. Shell signed the E&P contracts for these blocks earlier this month.

The ANH expects investment commitments of more than $100m during the initial phase of the contracts.

Shell Colombia President Ana Maria Duque stated that the company received all the necessary approvals from the government to undertake the exploration and development of the blocks.

Duque said: “This is a very important step to continue exploring the Colombian Caribbean and building win-win relationships with communities and authorities.”

“This is a very important step to continue exploring the Colombian Caribbean and building win-win relationships with communities and authorities.”

Reuters reported that the Colombian government recently modified contractual terms for offshore exploration. The country also launched a permanent bidding process to give a fillip to the oil sector. Reuters also stated that Colombia contains around 1.78 billion barrels of reserves, which will support 5.7 years of consumption.

Noble Energy Colombia general manager Ian Gordon said: “Noble Energy will operate these blocks with Shell as a member of the contract, we hope to drill our first well after analysing in more detail the prospects and obtaining the corresponding approvals from the government, and beyond, Noble Energy hopes to build its business in partnership with the communities and people of Colombia.”

The government intends to expand the resources to cover at least ten years of consumption.